Medina’s wine-tasting event draws big crowd

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers
MEDINA – The seventh annual Wine About Winter sold out of 750 tickets fast. The Medina Business Association then added 50 more and they were sold quickly. And then another 50 more.

Those 850 wine enthusiasts were in downtown Medina today, sampling wine from 30 locations in the business district. The event drew people from Rochester to Buffalo, including people who had never been to Medina before.

Aaron Slopa of Amherst gets wine from Cheryl Holt in Ashlee’s Place. Holt was pouring “Stiletto” from Midnight Run Wine Cellars in Ransomville.

Slopa said the wine-tasting showed him a vibrant downtown business community.

“It’s good seeing all of the small businesses I wouldn’t have seen before,” he said.

These friends enjoyed Wine About Winter in Medina today.

Slopa was joined by a friend Chris Sheffield of Kenmore, who was in Medina for the first time today.

“I didn’t realize the small-town charm,” Sheffield said. “There is great architecture here.”

The event continues to grow from the 250 tickets that were sold in the debut in 2009.

Sandy Barnes from Schulze Vineyards & Winery pours wine for Michael Buongiorne and his wife Chris inside The English Rose Tea Shoppe.

Barnes said Medina is one of the few vibrant small-town downtowns in Western New York. She said the Medina business district is comparable to East Aurora and Ellicottville.

“Medina has that old-town feel and it’s still a big area,” she said. “It’s your one-stop town.”

The community is ideal for a wine-tasting event because it has so many independent businesses within a few blocks, Barnes said.

Paul Schwenk of Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent pours Rainmaker Red for wine-tasting participants inside the Wide Angle Art Galery. Kim Keil, co-owner of the gallery, is in back offering chocolate-covered pretzels and other snacks.

Wide Angle also was a host for the Ale in Autumn tasting in September. Keil said the events give the gallery lots of exposure.

“It’s great publicity,” she said. “It’s bringing 850 people in here to see some awesome artwork.”

Angela Waldriff, owner of Ashlee’s Place, also said her business benefits from the events.

“If there aren’t people who shop now, they come back,” Waldriff said.

Many young adults were walking Main Street and the business district for Wine About Winter. The balloons were outside the 30 wine-tasting spots on the tour.

Kathy Blackburn, vice president of the Business Association, said the members will discuss how the event went with the expanded crowd this year. She said the event is serving its goal of giving people a fun outing in the dead of winter while also promoting the local businesses.

“This draws people who have never been to Medina and when they see it they are quite amazed with the variety of shops and historic charm,” Blackburn said. “You don’t find too many downtowns like this anymore.”

810 Mead Works was popular with its tasting room and honey-flavored mead.